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Ghost Canyon

Title - 'Diva: The Singles Collection' (Angel)
Artist - Sarah Brightman

Sarah Brightman has changed as much as her music has, going from Broadway singer to the ultimate Christine Daae, and then to an astounding pop diva. That said, people who have her other albums really shouldn't bother with "Diva: The Singles Collection," because they will already have this music. However, this is an outstanding place for newcomers - who may be overwhelmed by the quantity of Brightman's music - to get acquainted with both her best pop tunes and her earlier work on Broadway. It opens with two of her best musical numbers, both from her starmaking turn as Christine.

First the dark, dramatic "Phantom of the Opera" ("In sleep he sang to me/in dreams he came...") and the sensual "Music of the Night," which has her sweet voice accompanied by an orchestral sweep of strings and gentle brass. Then the tone switches to "Pie Jesu," a traditional hymn that is raised to almost ecstatic levels by Brightman's soaring voice, and then again to her gentle classical-pop tunes like the soaring "Who Wants to Live Forever?" the childlike "Tu Quieres Volver," and the bittersweet, fragile "What You Never Know."

There are brief forays into her electronic pop past, and some traditional tunes and covers of oldie acid tributes. But there are also some real lungbusters on this album as well, where Brightman shows that her voice is not just sweet, but powerful. She soars through the swelling strings of "Just Show Me How to Love You" and the wonder-filled "Deliver Me," before wrapping things up with (unsurprisingly) the Andrew Bocelli duet "Time to Say Goodbye." What can be criticized about the songs? Nothing, really - these songs are all about Brightman at her best.

The main flaw with "Diva" is perhaps that it should have been a double album, since some of her best and most prominent songs are missing. Where's the title tracks of "La Luna or "Eden," for example? Or her cover of Dido's "Here With Me"? That said, the songs are pretty much all strong. The more rockin' style of "Question of Honour" makes it stick out like a sore thumb, but the others are delicate spins of classical instrumentation and operatic pop tunes. Some of the songs are covers - Puccini, Procol Harum, and folk songs among them - but Brightman fits into them very well. I guess that's the advantage of having a magnificent voice.

Brightman can do the grandstanding vocals from "Phantom of the Opera" well enough, but she excels at the sweet vocals of pop songs, and the soaring arias. What's remarkable is that her voice sounds as good in the recent songs as it does in the older ones. "Diva: The Singles Collection" is not for longtime fans. Instead, it's a solid instroduction to people who haven't heard Brightman before, but want to hear the "angel of music" for themselves.

www.AngelRecords.com





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